Fervor over 'feral' cat bow killing still hot


Young veterinarians boast on Facebook could result in felony indictment.

The firestorm that ignited with the braggadocious-and, to many, appalling-post from Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey still simmers on social media. A photo on the young veterinarian's Facebook page on April 17 showed her holding up the limp body of an orange cat from the arrow she claims to have used to shoot it through its skull.

"My first bow kill … lol,” the post reads. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it's [sic] head! Vet of the year award … gladly accepted."

As the post circulated, so did outrage. "Too bad she doesn't just wander onto my property when I have a bow and arrow handy … They need to take her license so she can never work at a vet again. She is a disgrace to veterinary medicine!" wrote Brooklyn Isaacs on the Justice for Cat Murdered by Kristen Lindsey Facebook page.

"No I did not lose my job,” Lindsey wrote in response to critics shortly after her initial post. “Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I'm awesome!"

Local media outlets reported that it took less than an hour for Lindsey's employer, Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas, to fire her and put duct tape over her name on the clinic's sign. News also spread that the cat was in fact not feral, but named "Tiger" and owned by a local couple.

Public outcry

A blaze of condemnation followed Lindsey's post-from her alma mater, Colorado State University, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and an infinite number of social media commentators. In fact, the public outrage was so vast that Lindsey took down her Facebook page. Her former clinic shut down its social media and website as well.

The Austin County Sheriff's Department handling the case pleaded on its Facebook page for patience. "As we are trying to conduct normal operations of dispatching police, fire and EMS, our dispatchers are being snowed under answering calls about our investigation,” the department wrote. “We are asking you to please take it easy on our dispatchers."

The following day, Dean Mark Stetter, DVM, and Associate Dean Melinda Frye, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, of CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, issued a statement. "We write to address a troubling issue that has drawn attention in our college, and is gaining attention in the nation and around the world," it reads. "At Colorado State University, we join the veterinary clinic that earlier employed this individual, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and countless others who strongly decry the grotesque actions and comments displayed in that post."

The AVMA, also inundated with phone calls and social media posts concerning the Lindsey case, created an e-mail address, judicialcouncil@avma.org, to gather complaints in order to forward them to the AVMA Judicial Council. The council will decide whether action should be taken against Lindsey-mainly dismissal from AVMA membership.

“We are disturbed that this situation undermines the public trust and credibility that veterinarians have earned and so richly deserve," says Ron DeHaven, DVM, chief executive officer of the AVMA, in a release. "Every veterinarian takes an oath which states in part that they will 'use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering.' The behavior depicted in the photograph and its caption is contrary to that oath and all that the veterinary profession strives to be; we are committed to ensuring that every animal is treated with respect and dignity."

Heated comments on the AVMA Facebook page prompted the association to remove personal attacks and post warnings that attacks and foul language were not allowed on its social media page. More tempered responses came from commenters such as Adrienne Foster. "The only thing more disturbing than a fellow veterinarian killing animals in such a callous manner is that she felt OK posting about it on social media,” Foster wrote. “I hope she gets the help she so obviously needs."

Demand for justice

Although it's been reported that Lindsey and her lawyer spoke with the Austin County Sheriff's Department before the case was handed over to the district attorney, Lindsey has not been seen or heard from publicly since. Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes filed the case with the district attorney under Texas Penal Code 42.092, cruelty to non-livestock animals. The district attorney is not presently commenting on the case and, to date, no charges have been filed. However, charges of torturing an animal, killing an animal in a cruel manner, or killing an animal without the owner's effective consent can result in a felony indictment.

Presently, there is no indication of when Austin District Attorney Travis Koehn will present the case to the grand jury. That did not stop a small group of protesters from gathering outside the county courthouse when the grand jury convened April 29. In addition, Alley Cat Allies is offering a $7,500 reward for evidence leading to the accused's arrest and conviction. Petitions to revoke Lindsey's license on thepetitionsite.com and change.org have nearly 198,000 and more than 36,000 signatures respectively.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Licensing Board has opened an investigation. However, the wheels of justice-veterinary and criminal-often move slowly. As impatience over action in this case grows, the Austin County Sheriff's Department is urging understanding on its Facebook page that this case will be decided by the justice system-not social media.

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